The Faith Formation Study Committee has been working steadily for the past four years. What could have been a contentious issue (adapting the practice of profession of faith and allowing “age and ability appropriate faith in Jesus Christ” to be the marker of admittance to The Lord’s Supper) has been utilized as an opportunity for church congregations, ministry leaders and councils to reflect again on the gracious nature of faith.
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This year at Synod, Classis Zeeland wants us to “Appoint a study committee to expand on the 1973 report and conclusions on homosexuality.” And Classis Pacific Northwest wants us to “provide pastoral advice on the issue of gay marriage.” Now, people of God...
A key theme throughout the Agenda for Synod 2013 is the necessity to restructure the denomination. I’ll admit I feel anxious putting this out there but only because I’m going to be blamed for saying in public what any number of people have wondered about it private...
By far, the issue with greatest coverage in the Agenda is that of a Study Report out of the Office of Deacon Task Force. I really recommend reading it for yourselves as I believe the report is a model of how these things ought to be laid out. It is confessional, conversant in the relevant threads of church polity and winsome to boot.
I confess to having run stuck on Overtures 3 & 4. Perhaps you have too? No matter your opinion, most of us aren’t diffident in holding them or taciturn in voicing them. Let’s own that at the outset. These overtures seem likely to create a 2013 synod sensation.
I mentioned in my last blog post that I have never been a delegate to Synod. Judging from that post, I’ll bet you can see why. But I do have an inkling of admiration for the Sheila Holmes and George Vander Weits and Thea Leunks of our denomination. God bless them, every one!
The Church Order can teach us a few things about Synod and all of these things outlined are laudable goals and important issues for the life of the denomination: ecumenical relationships, orthodoxy in belief and worship. But I still don’t see the why in Synod. Is it possible the day might come when we recognize a thriftier and swifty-er way of doing the work commissioned to us?
THIS YEAR-- dear brethren & sisteren, I have done it. In a feat of institutional fortitude, I have thoroughly skimmed the entire agenda, even marking pages for further consideration. So you might ask yourself (with apologies to the beautiful Hebrew Seder) “How is this year unlike every other year?” Well, dear reader, this year I am your official Synod blogger!
Synod and Summer 2012 have come and gone. Where I live the weather was hot and dry. Some synod discussions and debates surely may have been hot, in committee, over mealtimes and in plenary sessions. But from what I heard and gleaned, they were never dry. Nor was the Synod Network conversation.
As the church order implications of our recommendation were discussed in 2011, a motion was made from the floor to delete one sentence from article 59 of the church order: “This public profession of faith includes a commitment to the creeds and confessions of the Christian Reformed Church.” That motion was discussed and approved without comment from our committee, but the instant it was passed we realized that we had blundered in our silence.
This piece is neither a report nor an evaluation. It is an account of my own feelings and reactions to Synod 2012. Feelings, as we all know, are fickle. Some of mine are not as vibrant as they were that first week in June. But they continue, nonetheless, so I am taking the risk of sharing some of them with you who are reading this now.
This letter is written primarily in response to Overture 3, which requested that a study be conducted to determine “the difference between the mission of the church as institution and as organism” (Agenda for Synod 2012, p. 467), regarding whether the official church may take and proffer positions on certain matters or whether such matters should be left to individual members of the church.
The Acts of Synod 2012, including decisions of synod and supplementary materials to the Agenda for Synod 2012, is now accessible in an electronic version. Hard copies of the Acts will be sent to the churches as soon as they become available in late August.
Does “a rose by any other name” sound as sweet? Synod 2012 agreed with the Candidacy Committee that there is a more fitting name for those ordained via Article 23 of the CRC Church Order. The office formerly known as “ministry associate” is now known as “commissioned pastor”.
In a few years, perhaps Belhar will have taken root in our hearts and minds, worked on our consciences and souls as it could not have had the advisory committee never daringly and faithfully followed God’s Spirit and decided to stay united. Remember my paraphrase of the old hymn: “God moves in a mysterious way—our blunders to reform.”
After the event on June 8th, I was stunned at how many people aged 50+ came up to me with tears in their eyes, either mourning how their children had left the Church or overwhelmed by the purity in the exchange of the evening – generations interacting, worshipping and singing in unity.
The voice vote was unanimous and, apparently, enthusiastic. I (along with my committee colleagues) was a little stunned. After all this time and after the near rancor of last year’s discussion at Synod—now unanimity and applause? Whatever! And most of all, thanks be to God.